Whoever Does an Ant’s Weight of Good Will See It: Tafsir ibn Kathir

While describing the events of the Day of Judgement in surah al-Zalzalah, Allah completes the surah by informing us:

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ * وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ

So whoever does an ant’s weight of good will see it * and whoever does an ant’s weight of evil will see it [99:7-8]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir included the following explanations from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, one of the tabi’oon and a student of ibn ‘Abbaas, in his commentary on this ayah:

وقال ابن أبي حاتم : حدثنا أبو زرعة ، حدثنا يحيى بن عبد الله بن بكير ، حدثني ابن لهيعة ، حدثني عطاء بن دينار ، عن سعيد بن جبير في قوله تعالى : ( فمن يعمل مثقال ذرة خيرا يره ومن يعمل مثقال ذرة شرا يره ) وذلك لما نزلت هذه الآية : ( ويطعمون الطعام على حبه مسكينا ويتيما وأسيرا ) [ الإنسان : 8 ] ، كان المسلمون يرون أنهم لا يؤجرون على الشيء القليل الذي أعطوه ، فيجيء المسكين إلى أبوابهم فيستقلون أن يعطوه التمرة والكسرة والجوزة ونحو ذلك ، فيردونه ويقولون : ما هذا بشيء . إنما نؤجر على ما نعطي ونحن نحبه . وكان آخرون يرون أنهم لا يلامون على الذنب اليسير : الكذبة والنظرة والغيبة وأشباه ذلك ، يقولون : إنما وعد الله النار على الكبائر . فرغبهم في القليل من الخير أن يعملوه ، فإنه يوشك أن يكثر ، وحذرهم اليسير من الشر ، فإنه يوشك أن يكثر ، فنزلت : ( فمن يعمل مثقال ذرة ) يعني : وزن أصغر النمل ( خيرا يره ) يعني : في كتابه ، ويسره ذلك . قال : يكتب لكل بر وفاجر بكل سيئة سيئة واحدة . وبكل حسنة عشر حسنات ، فإذا كان يوم القيامة ضاعف الله حسنات المؤمنين أيضا ، بكل واحدة عشر ، ويمحو عنه بكل حسنة عشر سيئات ، فمن زادت حسناته على سيئاته مثقال ذرة دخل الجنة . ـ

Ibn Abi Haatim reported that … Sa’eed ibn Jubayr commented on the ayah

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ * وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ

So whoever does an ant’s weight of good will see it * and whoever does an ant’s weight of evil will see it [99:7-8]

by saying:

It happened that when the ayah

وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا

And they give food despite their love for it to the poor, the orphans and the prisoners of war [76:8]

was revealed, the Muslims thought that they would not be rewarded for small amounts of charity. So a poor person would come to their doors and they felt that to give him a date or a scrap of food or a nut or the likes was something insignificant so they would send him away, saying, “That is nothing, we will only be rewarded if we give away something that we love.” Continue reading

“Whoever is Not Able to Stand at ‘Arafah …”: Ibn Rajab

In part of his final comments on Hajj in his book on the events of the Islamic calendar, al-haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following beautiful words:

من لم يستطيع الوقوف بعرفه فليقف عند حدود الله الذي عرفه ومن لم يستطيع المبيت في مزدلفه فليبت عزمه علئ طاعه الله ليقربه ويزدلفه ومن لم يقدر على نحر هديه بمنى فليذبح هواهه هنا ليبلغ به المنى ومن لم يستطع الوصول للبيت لانه منه بعيد فليقصد رب البيت فانه اقرب اليه من حبل الوريد . ـ

Whoever is not able to stand at ‘Arafah, then let him come to a standstill at the limits that Allah has set for him!

Whoever is not able to stay the night at Muzdhalifah, then let him stay in a state of obedience to Allah, seeking closeness and nearness to Him!

Whoever is not able to slaughter his sacrificial animal at Mina, then let him slaughter his own lusts and desires so that might achieve that higher aim! Continue reading

Praise for Tafsir al-Tabari from Great Scholars of the Past

In his handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti concluded an overview of the famous scholars of tafsir of the past and their books by writing the following high praise for the great mufassir, Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (died 310AH/932CE) and his famous book of tafsir commonly referred to as Tafsir al-Tabari or Tafsir ibn Jarir:

فِإِنْ قُلْتَ : فَأَيُّ التَّفَاسِيرِ تُرْشِدُ إِلَيْهِ وَتَأْمُرُ النَّاظِرَ أَنْ يُعَوِّلَ عَلَيْهِ ؟ قُلْتُ : تَفْسِيرُ الْإِمَامِ أَبِي جَعْفَرِ بْنِ جَرِيرٍ الطَّبَرِيِّ الَّذِي أَجْمَعَ الْعُلَمَاءُ الْمُعْتَبَرُونَ عَلَى أَنَّهُ لَمْ يُؤَلَّفْ فِي التَّفْسِيرِ مِثْلُهُ . قَالَ النَّوَوِيُّ فِي تَهْذِيبِهِ : كِتَابُ ابْنِ جَرِيرٍ فِي التَّفْسِيرِ لَمْ يُصَنِّفْ أَحَدٌ مِثْلَهُ .ـ

If one were to ask, “Which book of tafsir would you recommend for someone looking for something to rely on?” then I would say: the Tafsir of the Imam Abu Ja’far ibn Jarir al-Tabari. All the scholars worth any consideration agree that there hasn’t been anything else like it written in the field of tafsir.

al-Nawawi said in al-Tahdheeb, “The Tafsir of ibn Jarir – no one has authored anything like it.”

[al-Itqan 2/476]

al-Suyooti highlighted one of the reasons for the great merit of ibn Jarir and his tafsir earlier in the same discussion when he wrote: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #20

What follows is a collection of various benefits originally posted on our Facebook page during August, September, October and November of 2017:

♦ The Knowledge of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following narration in part of his tafsir:

وقال ابن مسعود : إذا حدثتكم بحديث أنبأتكم بتصديقه من كتاب الله . أخرجه ابن أبي حاتم . ـ

ibn Mas’ood said, “If any of you were to narrate a hadeeth to me, I can tell you something from Allah’s Book which affirms it.” This was reported by ibn Abi Haatim.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 2/429]


♦ The Qur’an is the Spring of the Hearts

Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following quote in the last part of his tafsir of surah al-Shooraa [42]:

وكان مالك بن دينار يقول : يا أهل القرآن ، ماذا زرع القرآن في قلوبكم ؟ فإن القرآن ربيع القلوب كما أن الغيث ربيع الأرض . ـ

Malik ibn Dinar used to say, “O people of the Qur’an, what has the Qur’an produced in your hearts? For the Qur’an is the spring of the hearts, just as rain is the spring for the earth.”

[Jaami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an 16/53]


♦ Be Frequent in Seeking Allah’s Forgiveness

In part of his commentary on surah Aal ‘Imraan [03], Imam al-Qurtubi mentions the following words from the tabi’ee, Makhool: Continue reading

“Good speech ascends to Allah and righteous action raises it”: Narration-based Tafsir

One of the many valuable works authored by Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti in service of the Qur’an is al-Durr al-Manthoor, a book dedicated to collecting the explanations of the Qur’an transmitted from the Prophet, the Sahabah, and the Tabi’oon. What follows is his complete explanation for the following ayah from surah Faatir:

قوله تعالى : إليه يصعد الكلم الطيب والعمل الصالح يرفعه

Allah’s statement:

إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ

Good speech ascends to Allah and righteous action raises it [35:10]

أخرج عبد بن حميد ، وابن جرير ، وابن المنذر والطبراني والحاكم ، وصححه، والبيهقي في “الأسماء والصفات” عن ابن مسعود قال : إذا حدثناكم بحديث أتيناكم بتصديق ذلك من كتاب الله، إن العبد المسلم إذا قال : سبحان الله وبحمده، والحمد لله، ولا إله إلا الله، والله أكبر، وتبارك الله . قبض عليهن ملك فضمهن تحت جناحه، ثم يصعد بهن إلى السماء، فلا يمر [ ص: 258 ] بهن على جمع من الملائكة إلا استغفروا لقائلهن، حتى يجيء بهن وجه الرحمن، ثم قرأ : إليه يصعد الكلم الطيب والعمل الصالح يرفعه . ـ

It is reported by ‘Abd ibn Humayd, ibn Jarir, ibn al-Mundhir, al-Tabarani, al-Hakem (who graded it as saheeh), and al-Bayhaqi in al-Asmaa’ w’al-Sifaat that ibn Mas’ood said:

Whenever I mention a hadith to you, I will bring you something from the Qur’an to affirm it.

When a Muslim slave says subhanAllah wa bi-hamdi, al-hamdu lillah, laa illaah illallaah, Allaah akbar, or tabaarakAllaah then an angel comes and takes these statements and puts them under his wing. He then goes up with them to the heavens, and there is no group of angels that he passes by with these words who don’t supplicate to Allah to forgive the one who said them. He continues like this until he brings them to the very face of al-Rahman.

He then recited: Continue reading

The Great Status of Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari: al-Dhahabi

In his massive biographical encyclopedia, Imam al-Dhahabi mentioned the following quote in his entry on the great commentator on the Qur’an, Muhammad ibn Jareer al-Tabari:

وقال الخطيب محمد بن جرير بن يزيد بن كثير بن غالب : كان أحد أئمة العلماء ، يحكم بقوله ، ويرجع إلى رأيه لمعرفته وفضله ، وكان قد جمع من العلوم ما لم يشاركه فيه أحد من أهل عصره ، فكان حافظا لكتاب الله ، عارفا بالقراءات ، بصيرا بالمعاني ، فقيها في أحكام القرآن ، عالما بالسنن وطرقها ، صحيحها وسقيمها ، وناسخها ومنسوخها ، عارفا بأقوال الصحابة والتابعين ، عارفا بأيام الناس وأخبارهم ، وله الكتاب المشهور في [ ص: 270 ] ” أخبار الأمم وتاريخهم ” ، وله كتاب : ” التفسير ” لم يصنف مثله ، وكتاب سماه : ” تهذيب الآثار ” لم أر سواه في معناه ، لكن لم يتمه ، وله في أصول الفقه وفروعه كتب كثيرة واختيار من أقاويل الفقهاء ، وتفرد بمسائل حفظت عنه .ـ

al-Khateeb said:

Muhammad ibn Jareer ibn Yazeed ibn Katheer ibn Ghaalib – He was one of the leaders of the scholars. His position carried authority, and his opinions were referred back to due to his knowledge and virtue.

He has amassed such a great amount of knowledge that none of his contemporaries matched him in that, for he had memorized the Qur’an, was well-acquainted with its various recitations, insightful into its meanings, expertly versed in the legal rulings of the Qur’an, knowledgeable of the sunnah and their chains of narration – whether they be authentic or otherwise, abrogating or abrogated -, familiar with the positions of the Sahabah and the Tabi’oon, and well-informed of historical facts and biographies. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #1

What follows are a collection of assorted benefits and short quotes originally posted on our Facebook page in the months of May and June of 2014:

Three Great Sins

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi said:

 الكبائر ثلاثة: أن تأمن مكر الله، وأن تقنط من رحمة الله، وأن تيأس من روح الله . ـ

There are three great sins: 1) feeling secure from the plan of Allah, 2) despairing of the Rahmah of Allah, and 3) giving up hope in the relief from Allah.

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286]

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi (d. 108 AH) was a scholar of Tafsir among the Taabi’oon, and the three issues that he mentioned are similar to these statements of Allah:

 أَفَأَمِنُوا مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَلَا ‏يَأْمَنُ مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْخَاسِرُ‌ونَ

Then did they feel secure from the plan of Allah? But no one feels secure from the plan of Allah except the losing people. [7:99]

 قَالَ وَمَنْ يَقْنَطُ مِنْ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّهِ إِلَّا الضَّالُّونَ

He said, “And who despairs of the Rahmah of his Lord except for those astray?” [15:56]

وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

And despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one gives up hope in relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. [12:87]


The Meanings of Hopelessness and Despair

Allah says in surah al-Fussilat:

 لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ

“Man does not get tired of praying for good, but if an evil touches him, then he gives up all hope and is in despair. ” [41:49]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote: Continue reading

The Sahabah on Obeying the Muslim Ruler: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of his tafsir of surah al-Nur, al-Haafidh Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following statements of the great mufassir from among the Taabi’oon, Qataadah:

وقال قتادة في هذه الآية : ( أن يقولوا سمعنا وأطعنا ) ذكر لنا أن عبادة بن الصامت – وكان عقبيا بدريا ، أحد نقباء الأنصار – أنه لما حضره الموت قال لابن أخيه جنادة بن أبي أمية : ألا أنبئك بماذا عليك وماذا لك؟ قال : بلى . قال : فإن عليك السمع والطاعة ، في عسرك ويسرك ، ومنشطك ومكرهك ، وأثرة عليك . وعليك أن تقيم لسانك بالعدل ، وألا تنازع الأمر أهله ، إلا أن يأمروك بمعصية الله بواحا ، فما أمرت به من شيء يخالف كتاب الله ، فاتبع كتاب الله . ـ

Regarding the ayah:

إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَرَ‌سُولِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَن يَقُولُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the successful ones. [24:51]

Qataadah said:

It was mentioned to us that when ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit – and he was one of the Sahabah who was present for the Pledge of al-‘Aqabah and at the Battle of Badr, and was one of the leaders of the Ansar – was on his deathbed, he said to his nephew Junaadah ibn Abi Umayyah, “Shall I not inform you of what is incumbent upon you?” “Of course!”, his nephew replied.

He said, “Indeed, listening and obeying is mandatory upon you, whether it is regarding something easy for you or difficult, whether in good times or bad, even if the leader were to show favoritism towards certain people over others. And it is incumbent upon you to limit your tongue to speaking with justice, and that you do not dispute with those in authority regarding their commands – unless they command you to perform a clear act of disobedience to Allah. Then, if they command you to do anything which conflicts with the Book of Allah, follow the Book of Allah.” Continue reading

Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah informs us of the following:

وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَّمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ ۚ وَكَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا

And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you, – and Allah spoke to Moosaa directly. [4:164]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following points:

وقوله : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) وهذا تشريف لموسى ، عليه السلام ، بهذه الصفة ; ولهذا يقال [ ص: 475 ] له : الكليم . وقد قال الحافظ أبو بكر بن مردويه : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن سليمان المالكي ، حدثنا مسيح بن حاتم ، حدثنا عبد الجبار بن عبد الله قال : جاء رجل إلى أبي بكر بن عياش فقال : سمعت رجلا يقرأ : ” وكلم الله موسى تكليما ” فقال أبو بكر : ما قرأ هذا إلا كافر ، قرأت على الأعمش ، وقرأ الأعمش على [ يحيى ] بن وثاب ، وقرأ يحيى بن وثاب على أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي ، وقرأ أبو عبد الرحمن ، على علي بن أبي طالب ، وقرأ علي بن أبي طالب على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) . ـ

Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Merits of Surah al-Nisaa’: Tafsir ibn Kathir

A number of the books of tafsir begin their explanations of each surah with a section on the virtues of that particular surah. However, most of these sections are largely made up of fabricated or weak narrations. The famous mufassir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir, strove to avoid much inauthentic material in his tafsir or to follow up such material with notes as to its status and veracity. So when he did begin his explanation of surah al-Nisaa’ by mentioning some of its merits, he approached things in a different manner by bringing statements from some of the scholars of the Sahabah about this surah:

 وقال الحاكم في مستدركه : حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، حدثنا أبو البختري عبد الله بن محمد بن شاكر ، حدثنا محمد بن بشر العبدي ، حدثنا مسعر بن كدام ، عن معن بن عبد الرحمن بن عبد الله بن مسعود عن أبيه ، عن عبد الله بن مسعود ، رضي الله عنه ، قال : إن في سورة النساء لخمس آيات ما يسرني أن لي بها الدنيا وما فيها : ( إن الله لا يظلم مثقال ذرة ) الآية ، و ( إن تجتنبوا كبائر ما تنهون عنه ) الآية ، و ( إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ) و ( ولو أنهم إذ ظلموا أنفسهم جاءوك ) الآية ، و ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) ثم قال : هذا إسناد صحيح إن كان عبد الرحمن سمع من أبيه ، فقد اختلف في ذلك . ـ

○ al-Haakim said in his book al-Mustadrak: … that the grandson of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood narrated from his father who narrated from his father, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him), that he said: In surah al-Nisaa’ there are five ayaat which are more pleasing to me than the entire world and all that is in it.

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ ۖ وَإِن تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِن لَّدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Surely, Allah does not do an atom’s worth of injustice. But if you have some good, He multiplies it and give a great reward from Himself [4:40]

إِن تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا

If you avoid the major sins from which you are forbidden, We will expiate your minor sins from you and enter you into a noble entrance. [4:31]

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray. [4:116]

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّـهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّـهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful. [4:64]

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّـهَ يَجِدِ اللَّـهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [4:110]

And then al-Haakim said: This chain of narration is sound, so long as the grandson heard it from his father, and there is some differing as to whether he did or not. Continue reading